It’s My Life – Chapter 16

Kara had become even more of a confidant as our work relationship continued. Our friendship developed outside of work to that of big sister/ little sister. She had been in a controlling relationship and was empathic to my situation. She knew that if I left, it would be because I was ready, not because someone told me to. She was always ready to whisk me away for day trips to do something horsey and get me out the house.

Dover Saddlery ran an ad for their annual tent sale in Maryland. Kara had offered to drive us that Saturday and talked of all the exciting things we could potentially find. I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be able to buy much, but I was excited just to be able to get away.

There were bins of discounted breeches, shirts, bell boots, etc. stacked on tables under the tent. I sorted through the discounted items and found a pair of $10 tights. They were super cute caramel color with a blue plaid seat.

Kara came rushing over to me, wearing a smile on her face like she had found gold inside the store. She was carrying a beautiful pair of Ariat field boots that were in the basement. She gleamed telling me that if I could fit in them, they were coming home with me. I had never had a pair of nice boots like this before. I looked at her and asked uneasily, “How much are they?”. She wouldn’t answer and just told me to try them on.

“They fit perfect!” She exclaimed. “You need these!” Ugh. The boots had been marked down to $100. It was a really good deal, but I didn’t have $100. I texted Ted and of course his response was no, we did not have the money. Kara was not letting me leave that store without those boots. She was going to pay for them and I could pay her back and take as long as I needed to.

A few weeks later, Kara and I were getting ready to close the store and one of our more difficult customers pulled in. She laughed and said if you wait on “Karen”, you never have to pay me back for those boots. The deal was made and I had my first pair of real tall riding boots for $0.

To help reduce our bills, I had made the decision to sell my trailer. It was a small two-horse that had only cost me $3500, but I was making payments on it. I wasn’t using it and it was just another monthly bill. When I told Ted what I was doing, he made it clear that he was not the one telling me to do this. This was my decision. While it was my decision, his spending was the reason I was selling the trailer.

Ted could be quite thrifty when it came to allocating money to anyone other than himself. As part of my self-help treatment plan to alleviate my anxiety, I had considered taking up yoga. During our weekly grocery run at Walmart, I asked Ted if we could swing by the sports section and grab a yoga mat. Unfortunately, Ted explained, we just didn’t have the money that week for a $20 yoga mat. I didn’t argue, I didn’t try to persuade. I just accepted that no was the answer. It was not worth the time nor the energy to fight this battle, so I just let it be.

We had originally started out with our finances in separate accounts, but to make things “easier”, both paychecks were deposited in our joint account. I became less and less involved in how our money was spent and just gave the reins to Ted. Any suggestions I had to improve our situation put restrictions on spending and Ted was not a fan. It was absolutely overwhelming to try to manage paying our bills. A payment would be made on one account one week, only to borrow from a line of credit the next to pay something else. We should not have been in this position. Between the two of us, we were grossing six figures. The more Ted made, the more Ted spent instead of paying down debt. When Ted would get laid off, those bills did not go away.

I had filed for a forbearance on my student loans to also help reduce our monthly payments. This option is a wonderful relief, as your payments are put on hold for a temporary period, however the interest continues to add on to your balance. Credit card offers that had provided 0% interest were jumping to 25% on balances that never got paid off and now we were charged a year’s worth of interest which put us over the limit, which resulted in fees.

During the late 2000s, the banks and credit card companies were extending credit to people that should not have been eligible. How this next purchase occurred, I will never know. I received a call from Ted telling me that I when I got off work I needed to meet him at the car dealership. He was buying a Mercedes. He needed another signer. There was no discussing this decision. My life would be miserable until I signed those papers. I thought walk away or sign, those were my options. I was floored that he had done something this outrageous. And I wanted to kill him.

I drove to the dealership numb. I walked through the process of signing the paperwork as the owner of this stupid car because I had the better credit and Ted was the co-signer. He was thrilled about his new purchase and I was at a loss. I wanted to throw a fit in the dealership and tell that ridiculous salesman how bad our financial situation was, what shitty person my husband was, and breakdown in tears. But no, I did what I was told and did it quietly, crying inside.

Ted showed off his new ride to his parents and they were so happy for him. They knew I didn’t like the car, but they had no idea why. Their daughter-in-law was always solemn and withdrawn. How could I tell them what was really happening?

Pictured here are the $10 tights and the boots! While the breeches are no longer around, I still ride in those “free” boots!

Catch up on missed chapters of It’s My Life!

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